Dr Jem Price, Principal Lecturer in Social Work offers advice and questions to consider for international students considering studying social work at the University of Brighton.
Jem says, “I’ve been interested for some time in the experiences of and contributions to our qualifying courses by students who’ve come to the UK to train as a Social Worker or who’ve spent their formative years outside the UK.
“In many ways, I would urge ‘international students’ to consider the same things as every other student joining a social work course, such as:”
– What do I think social work is?
– What activities do I think Social Workers engage in?
– What do I hope to bring to the course?
– What impact might my background or identity have upon becoming a Social Worker?
– What are my expectations of university and, again, how does my experience of education shape those expectations?
– What things do I think I will need to learn?
“By considering questions like these, I hope that students who’ve perhaps spent much of their life in places with very different cultures, values, social norms, welfare services, legal/governmental systems, levels and forms of inequality and so on might be able to reflect upon the potential implications of this when seeking to qualify as a Social Worker in the UK.
“This is not to single out international students as special or somehow disadvantaged: in fact I would suggest quite the opposite. All students bring a wealth of perspectives, lived experience and knowledge, as well as areas about which they feel less confident, skilled or aware. I would suggest that the task for everyone on a social work course is to engage actively with all of your fellow students, just as much as you would with academics, practitioners and experts by experience who contribute to your learning.
“Moving to university and becoming a Social Worker involves self-reflection, challenging your assumptions and learning how to work within, what can sometimes feel like quite alien, professional contexts. Whilst for international students this may take particular forms and involve unique areas for development or focus, I would argue that becoming a social work student involves some kind of ‘culture shock’, whatever your background or identity.
So, embrace your unique strengths, be open to learning from everyone and enjoy the ride!”
Dr Jem Price, Principal Lecturer Social Work